How to Get Help With a Credit Card Fraud Investigation
Credit card fraud costs American consumers an estimated $500 million per year according to the Department of Homeland Security. Such fraud passes on to consumers higher annual fees and finance charges in addition to higher public budget expenditures for the escalation in law enforcement investigations and subsequent prosecutions.
As of 2008, 9.9 million cardholders were the victims of credit card fraud, and 71 percent fell victim within one week of their information being stolen. Although credit card fraud increases from year to year, its growth is impeded by better technology and prevention practices.
How to Get Help With a Credit Card Fraud Investigation
Types of credit card fraud
Skimming is the practice of duplicating all available information on a credit card during a normal business transaction. Skimming is done with a small and concealable hand-held device which the credit card is run through, capturing all pertinent information to process transactions. The majority of credit card fraud stems from skimming rather than the illegal use of stolen credit cards.
Application fraud is completing of a credit application with stolen personal information in an effort to open an account using someone else’s identity.
Account takeover occurs when a person other than the legal cardholder contacts the issuing bank to arrange a change of address and requests the issuing of a new card.
Carding is the method of authenticating the validity of a stolen credit card — usually with a small online purchase.
Phishing is the practice of sending legitimate looking emails to account holders instructing them to visit a spoof site (a Web site that appears to be real) and authenticate the account number and/or other information.
Friendly fraud occurs when the actual account holder makes an online purchase and after receiving the goods, and files a falsified, non-delivery of goods claim. Because proof of delivery can be difficult to prove, the card holder’s claim is processed. The cost of this type of fraud translates into higher rates for all account holders.
Steps to take for fraud investigation
Simple review of credit card statements should be conducted on a monthly basis and statements should be routinely shredded. Often, small unauthorized charges go unnoticed by cardholders and timely reporting of such charges is critical. If a card holder suspects his account had been compromised, notification must been given to the issuing bank immediately.
Verify the transaction is illegitimate and not an oversight, or hijacking (hijacking is the practice of charging for a service after a free trial period in which cancellation is made complicated).
Contact the issuer directly, by telephone and keep a record of all representatives’ names, dates and times. Ask for specific information regarding the investigation and company policies regarding same. The cardholder should likewise contact the goods or service provider to inform them of the fraudulent charge. Follow-up in writing after reporting the fraudulent charge (credit card issuers often will require a written statement) and destroy the card.
Change all account passwords and security questions immediately and notify all three credit bureaus of the fraudulent transaction by phone and in writing. The Fair Credit Reporting Act protects account holders from fraud and identity theft. Consumers that suspect either fraudulent charges or identity theft should request a credit report from all three agencies and a security “freeze.” Credit bureaus are allowed to freeze a consumer’s credit file upon request.
Complete the FTC’s Identity Theft Victim’s Complaint and Affidavit and have the affidavit notarized. A copy of this affidavit should be made available to local law enforcement for documentation. Request in writing, copies of any documentation made by the issuing bank or credit card and law enforcement.
What to do after the investigation is concluded
Upon resolution of the investigation, request a statement of the resolution, including the discharge of the fraudulent debt. Furnish all three credit bureaus with a copy of the statement and keep copies for future reference.
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